The following post was inspired by Kelly Corrigan’s soon-to-be-released memoir, Glitter and Glue. Once again Kelly proves that she’s more than a writer, she’s a master storyteller whose conversational, yet deeply insightful words instantly transport you. Rather than holed up in bed with a flashlight reading, you’re suddenly chatting, glass of wine in hand, recollecting your past together. Because, quite obviously, you’re old friends and kindred spirits. In Glitter and Glue, Kelly warms and breaks your heart as she chronicles her journey of learning to respect, appreciate, and embrace the mother she found to be rather challenging as a girl. (For the purposes of this review, I received a free advanced reader’s edition of the book. The title will be released February 4, 2014, but can be pre-ordered now. All opinions are my own. This post includes Amazon affiliate links.)
It couldn’t have been easy being my mother.
It’s not that I was particularly rebellious. Though I do remember taking some serious heat for using a dull orange crayon to write in my 2nd grade homework book instead of the mandatory #2 pencil. And there was that time my friend’s dad drove us to TP the yard duty’s house in his Toyota minivan that looked an awful lot like an egg. Which is something two giggling girls with badges plastered on their kelly green vests wouldn’t dare to throw at anyone’s house — even hers — of course.
By high school my brushes with danger got a bit more, um, edgy? (Though I’m absolutely sure nobody in the history of the world has ever used that word to describe me.) Getting into trouble just wasn’t my thing.
No. My thing was moody. I was just plain mean. To my mom, that is. I don’t remember ever telling her I hated her. Though odds are I did. And if by some grace of God I never used those exact words, I certainly made it clear that she wasn’t worth my time.
I’d disappear to friends’ houses where their moms let us watch PG-13 movies while noshing on cereal with made-up words like Cap’n on the box. And when my mom had the nerve to get a job at my school in 5th grade, ruining any hope I had of a boy with some social currency paying attention to me, I got her back by refusing to acknowledge her presence.
Somewhere along the way, there was a shift. Maybe I matured. Or maybe I came crawling back to her quietly because I honestly needed her that much more. Either way, my mom was right there — to talk, to absorb my tears, to advise, to brush my hair while I watched Dylan break Brenda’s heart. She did it all with tenderness, as if she hadn’t even noticed I’d been unspeakably terrible to her.
When the time came for me to be the mom, I felt a quiet sense of relief rush over me when Big was a boy. No drama, I thought. I’d say, I was so mean to my mom growing up, I couldn’t imagine being on the receiving end. Bullet dodged. Another boy? Another win. And then came the girl.
This girl? She’s only 2-1/2 now, yet each day we cringe at the thought of her tween years. She’s opinionated. Stubborn. And irrational. (Words practically everyone in the history of the world has used to describe me.)
But this morning, as I was brushing her hair — a daily activity that usually requires speed, agility, and words I shudder to hear her repeat — she was calm and confident. She stood peacefully on the bench in the bathroom and quietly examined me in the mirror as I worked through her unruly tangles. When I was done, she gently reached for me, and as I lifted her, she rested her head on my shoulder and held on tight. Really tight. Like, by simply looking into my watery eyes, she knew it was just what I needed.
Looking back at her sweet, angelic face, I whispered a promise to myself. No matter how hard she pushes me away, I will always be there to hold her — just like this — when she’s ready to return. Because that’s the burden and privilege of being a good mom. One who, as Kelly wrote, can “…absorb all this ugliness and find a way to fall back in love with her child the next day.”